Career path with big benefits

An early start with debt-free education

As early as a high school student’s sophomore year, post-graduation plans are discussed and college visits are the norm. For students who are motivated about their futures, want to explore their career options or who have a clear dream they want to achieve, one option that should be considered is attending a career and technical school like the Upper Valley Career Center.

At Upper Valley CC, located in Piqua, high school students can begin their career pathway, earn college credits and start to work in their desired field — all while remaining active in sports and other activities at their home school.

The school offers 25 programs within 12 career clusters. A wide range of programs are available including Pre-Engineering, Manufacturing, Welding, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, Exercise Science and Veterinary Science and Electronics.

The apprenticeship opportunity
Kirsten Fries, an Upper Valley Career Center HVAC/R senior from Covington High School was offered an apprenticeship with Emerson, Sidney, last spring. Fries is one of 62 Upper Valley CC students serving in apprenticeships this school year. She spent her summer “break” working full time. “I work in the Transport Lab running tests on compressors and making sure they can withstand certain thresholds,” she explains. Fries says she learned about HVAC/R and apprenticeships from her brother Ian what was also in the program at Upper Valley. “I think the best thing about being an apprentice is the experience. You are working on a job that could potentially employ you for years after high school - you learn so much.”

Upper Valley CC Apprentice
With the start of her senior year, Fries and the other apprentices switched from full-time work schedule to a two-week work/school rotation. They spend two weeks on the job and two weeks back at school for senior-level classes and lab.
Besides earning a good income while in high school, Fries has a solid plan for her future. After earning a diploma from Covington High School and a two-year Career Tech Certificate through the Career Center, Fries hopes to stay on staff with Emerson. “Emerson offers a tuition reimbursement program. I’d like to go to college to further my career in HVAC and maybe someday work with my brother,” she said.

Thousands of career-tech students from across Miami and Shelby counties have excelled upon graduating and completing completed their high school or post-secondary education at Upper Valley CC.


Levi Lavy, another Career Center senior says he didn’t know anything about welding when he enrolled in the program. “I thought I wanted to be a diesel tech working on semis. I knew they were paid more if they could also weld frame work, since it is a difficult task. When I got into welding, I found out I’d rather do this full time.”

Lavy serves his apprenticeship at Kerber Sheet Metal, Troy, through the Local 42 Sheet Metal Workers Union. Upper Valley Career Center’s apprenticeship coordinator Tony Trapp, sees this as an exceptional opportunity. “When Levi graduates from high school he will be a registered apprentice starting his second-year and working toward his journeyman certification.” Lavy gets the importance of this. He looks forward to continued learning and hopes to master design and layouts for laser cut parts in his fourth and fifth year.

Lavy is taking advantage of another distinct opportunity available to Upper Valley Career Center apprentice this year. He has been selected to travel to Germany with Tony Trapp, Roger Voisard, Upper Valley CC’s Industrial Training Instructional Supervisor, and nine other apprentices. After hosting five German career-tech, exchange students here in September, Lavy and the others will spend ten days in and around Berlin. They will visit manufacturing centers that employ apprentices and the career tech school where they receive their education. Lavy isn’t certain what to expect from the trip, but is looking forward to the visit and learning about the culture and different work environments.

Trapp has coordinated the exchange experience to be mutually beneficial for the Upper Valley CC students and their German counterparts. “American employers need skilled workers now and they need leaders for the future,” Trapp says. “The German Apprenticeship model has been very successful providing both. We are working to replicate that success. It doesn’t look exactly like what will see during our November visit, but as we respond to the needs of our students it impacts local employers and our workforce development partners equally. The nice thing about our students is they have a year of training before committing to the apprenticeship. They already have a level of skill and they have determined that this career is what they want to do.”

This year Trapp anticipates the 62 Upper Valley Career Center high school apprentices will collectively earn over $1 million in wages before graduation. Learning combined with earning is a happy alternative to crippling college debt. He says, “This is life changing for our young apprentices and has a very positive impact on the overall community,”

The school-to-apprenticeship program at Upper Valley CC assists students in entering an occupation requiring a high level of skill through a unique curriculum of business and education linked with a formal apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship. 
“The program is an opportunity for students to get a jump start in their career, receive on-the-job training, and gain exposure to real work environments,” Trapp says. “Students who work as apprentices can legally perform tasks and gain experience that their peers are not permitted, because this is part of their state-approved CTE training.”

Opportunities are also available for adults who want to advance their careers. Upper Valley CC offers Accredited Adult Post-Secondary Education, Aspire, apprenticeship training and customized workforce development.

Want to know more? Learn about the programs offered at Upper Valley Career Center or find out how your company can partner with Upper Valley CC to recruit skilled employees.

Submitted by Upper Valley Career Center

Contact Information

8811 Career Drive, Piqua, Ohio 45356
Phone: 937.778.1980 | Fax: 937.778.4677


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